The Starbucks app needs to be more contexutal


Lady-Starbucks-III’ve been playing with the Starbucks app for awhile and I like some of the things it does. I especially like the geofences it creates when I select my favorite stores. (When you get close to one of your favorite locations, the app creates a push alert that essentially lets you know you’re close AND they are ready to charge you for a drink!) I like this because I’m a geogeek and I also appreciate them adding some context to my “life”. At this point, you’re thinking; “The title of the post says they need to add context but I just read that they have some.”  The issue I have is more a matter of taking the contextual experience deeper. In other words, when I walk in the store – they know I’m in there – and the app should reflect that. A few of  functions are listed below.

Who sings this? – Starbucks should partner with Shazam to allow the app to tell the customer who sings the song that’s playing when you walk in. Could also let the customer know if that band was coming in concert and offer them tickets.

“Store culture” – The app should show Instagram/Twitter images that were taken at that specific location. This would give the customer a feel for the store culture. (As you know, each location has a slightly different feel.)

Recommendations – If Starbucks has access to your social accounts, they could monitor the content you create/share in an effort to show you products that you might like. For example: I have a very old sBux coffee mug that needs to be replaced and I always forget. If they knew that, they could recommend a replacement once I was in the store. Gift giving has amazing potential.

Scan me – No. Not QR codes. A customer would come in, order and then be waiting for their drink. They have their phone out and could take a picture of a bag of coffee to get more information about the product. The app could give them the history of the area of the world that coffee came from. The process it took to make it. The cultural perspective of that product. It could be anything really and the content could images/text with the option for video.

Promotions – BE CAREFUL with this one. Utilize the purchase behaviors and other data to create targeted offers. And always give them the ability to opt out.

The first time you walk into a Starbucks location, with the app in-hand, it should say Welcome Michael! unless of course your name was Sarah. The app would then run you through a short description the functions listed above.

By Michael Myers

I'm an Associate Teaching Professor of Digital Marketing at the Daniels College of Business, University of Denver. I also consult with startups and established brands. I'm currently interested in artificial intelligence, cognitive neuroscience and culture. I am married to an amazing woman and have two incredible children. I was raised in Colorado and spend my free time with family, cycling, snowboarding and going to the Pacific Ocean to SCUBA dive + surf. I'm passionate about architecture, design, street art, photography and tattooing.